One night built Hamilton Bridge during WW2 at Heingang under threat


Laishram Ranbir

Over the past decade many priceless heritage sites and monuments have been destroyed, vandalised or desecrated in countries across the world, while more than 100 heritage sites could be damaged beyond repair if urgent action isn’t taken to protect them.

Likewise, in Manipur, many of the sites which have been declared world heritage and many waited to be declared, face serious threats to be wiped out from the face of the history due to the changing course of developmental work of human race in the state.

World Heritage sites are designated by the UN as places of outstanding universal value, which should be protected for future generations. But according to a study by historical experts, urbanisation, farming, industry and deforestation are having an increasing impact on world heritage sites.

During the Second World War, various roads and bridges were constructed in Manipur as a passes route by the Allied Forces and among these roads and bridges is the “The Hamilton Bridge” built between Heingang and Achanbigei.

Recently, some contractors or government workers tried to take off the aged old bridge which was built between Heingang and Achanbigei during the WW2. Almost 80% of the wood laid on the bridge have been removed. Luckily, locals of the area have manage to stopped dismantling the historical bridge.

No one knows the reason why the bridge have to be dismantled down while a proper modern bridge is already on use next to it.

The question is that does the state government not care about preserving a heritage site or cared about using fund in the wrong way by destroying what our forefather has left for us to witness how the world was in their time.

Visiting the bridge, “one can hear the tale from the locals of the bridge, which was built in one night of April 5/6 of 1944 by 56 British Engineers from 58 Company Royal Engineers under the command of Lieutenant D G Jones. They were in Lion Box and were sent to a camp near where the bridge was erected. The Hamilton bridge built between heingang and Achanbegei also connects the Airfield at Koirengei with the IV Corps HQ at Keep or Mongjam/Heingang area.”

One of the local said that they still narrates the tales of the bridge being built in one night to their children, grandchildren how the bridge was built by the British army in one night.

It is very unfortunate for the locals seeing the bridge being pull down instead of preserving it; instead it must be preserve as heritage site for the generation to come, the local said.

In our state Manipur, now-a-days it is becoming hard to find a heritage site or site where WW2 have occurred apart from few other known places like Nambol Maibam Lokpa Ching, Imphal War Cemetery, Kanglatongbi War Cemetery, INA at Moirang and Kangla.
But we should not forget that there are many other places in the state which have been left isolated or destroyed due to the construction of houses illegally and legally.
Is it not our duty to preserve what is precious for our state, to understand it, learn from it rather than destroying?

Shouldn’t the state government and the concern department take up necessary strong steps to save such heritage site from being destroyed forever rather than seeing as a photos or hearing as a tale in the near future.

“Any place that is listed as a World Heritage site is a globally important asset to all of humanity.

“The world would never accept the famous heritage site being knocked down, being flattened for housing estates or roads, yet right now, across our planet, we are simply letting many of our natural World Heritage sites be severely altered.”

The Hamilton Bridge which is built in one night is the very example for Manipur state to be proud of having such bridge show the world how technology was so advance during the WW2 compare to today’s generation and who know hundreds of such kind might be out there.

It’s been more than 73 years the Hamilton Bridge was built and still stands strong and intact which is brilliant work of British Engineering.
Rather than dismantle the bridge, the concern and state government should take up steps to keep it as a World War Heritage property for the generations to come.

It is worth considering national and world heritage conservation policies and legislation. All heritages are valuable and should be protected for posterity.

Heritage resources are as much a reflection of our humanity as is our very human existence.


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